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US, S Korea begin annual exercise amid N Korea's threat

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A file photo of US and South Korean troops

SEOUL (BNS): The US and South Korean troops kicked off the 'Key Resolve' and 'Foal Eagle' annual joint drills on Monday at the Korean Peninsula, a media report said.

According to Yonhap, the drills were launched despite warnings from the North that they could lead to an "all-out war."

"The drills are defencive in nature, but North Korea has always denounced them as a rehearsal for a northward US invasion aimed at toppling its communist regime," the agency quoted an South Korean official as saying.

On Sunday, the North Korea's military threatened to retaliate against the drills with a full-scale military attack that would turn Seoul, the South's capital, into a "sea of fire," renewing its harsh rhetoric.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) have raised the military alert status across maritime and land borders to deal with any possible attack from the North.

Around 12,800 US personnel will participate in the 'Key Resolve; (10,500 troops) and 'Foal Eagle' (1,500 troops) exercises. The Key Resolve drill is a computer-based simulation to prevent enemy provocations such as a torpedo attack or an artillery attacks and it will go through March 10. The Foal Eagle exercise deals with the field training and it will continue till April 30.

South Korean media reported that a US aircraft carrier would participate in the exercise, although the US military officials and the South Korean Ministry neither confirmed nor denied those reports.

Earlier, a Nimitz-class supercarrier of the US Navy had participated in the 2008 Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises.

The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission team which had supervised the cease-fire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War will observe the exercises to validate the defencive nature of the drills, the news agency said.

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US  S Korea  exercise  
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